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Commercial spaces in Delhi colonies up for development will burden them, say experts

The experts wrote to Union ministers against the conversion into commercial spaces of a section of the seven south Delhi colonies that are up for redevelopment.

delhi Updated: Jul 03, 2018 12:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
NGT,Delhi trees,NGT order on Delhi trees felling
Dry ornamental plants seen at the Kidwai Nagar residential colony that is among the seven south Delhi neighbourhoods up for redevelopment. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

On a day when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) stopped felling of trees till July 19 in the seven south Delhi neighbourhoods that are up for redevelopment, environment experts wrote to Union ministers against the conversion of a section of these areas into commercial spaces.

The letter, addressed to Union minister of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, and the minister of environment forests and climate change Harsh Vardhan said the government should “set aside the proposal to create commercial spaces” in these areas.

“...We welcome your announcement that the proposed redevelopment plan in south Delhi will be reconsidered. However, the redesign of the projects cannot merely be confined to protecting existing trees,” the letter signed by over 20 experts read.

The letter added, “...(the commercialisation of these colonies) will place an unbearable burden of pollution, congestion and resource extraction on a city that is already in environmental distress.”

Among the experts who have written to the government are Amita Baviskar, professor of sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth; Pradip Krishen, author and conservationist; Ravi Agarwal, environmentalist and former member of Delhi Tree Authority; Geeta Athreya, formerly with UNICEF; and Sonali Bhagwati, architect and former member of Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC).

The experts also requested the ministries to conduct an environment audit of all cities of the country and to make the findings of the audit an integral aspect of urban planning.

“Environmental equality can no longer be merely a chapter in our Master Plans; it must be central to the future design of our cities,” the letter read.

After the possible felling of at least 14,000 trees in the neighbourhoods of Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraj Nagar, Sriniwaspuri, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar hit the headlines, a citizens movement comprising environmentalists and residents has endeavoured to save these trees from being chopped, insisting that infrastructure projects need to be “designed around trees”.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 12:17 IST